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Evidence for Regional Hypogene Speleogenesis in Murcia (SE Spain)

  • Fernando GázquezEmail author
  • José María Calaforra
  • Tomás Rodríguez-Estrella
  • Andrés Ros
  • José L Llamusí
  • Juan Sánchez
Chapter
Part of the Cave and Karst Systems of the World book series (CAKASYWO)

Abstract

Signs of hypogenic speleogenesis have been detected in a number of caves of the Murcia Region (SE Spain), in some cases revealing active speleogenetic mechanisms rarely observed in hypogene cavities elsewhere in the world. Here, we investigate the hypogenic morphologies and speleothems of four caves in this region, namely Sima de la Higuera, Sima Destapada, Cueva del Agua and Cueva del Puerto. Also, other ten caves showing evidence for hypogenic speleogenesis has been preliminary described. Processes related to ancient and current hydrothermal activity, the discordance of permeability structures in the adjacent beds and the spatial arrangement of the regional hydrogeology have given rise to maze patterns and typical subaqueous hypogenic morphologies. These include spongework mazes, rising wall channels and shafts, feeders, bubble trails, solution pockets, megascallops and rising of chains cupolas, among others. Carbonic acid speleogenesis is responsible for the formation of most of these cave features; however, evidence of sulfuric acid speleogenesis (SAS) has been observed in Cueva del Puerto and Sima del Pulpo, which host massive secondary gypsum deposits. Speleothems typically linked to hydrothermal water upwelling and CO2 degassing close to the water table are present in most of these cavities, including folia, calcite spar crystals, cave clouds, calcite rafts deposits and several types of cave raft cones. The wide variety of hypogenic speleogenesis indicators and speleothems whose genesis is unconnected to meteoric water seepage reveals that the hydrothermal field of the Murcia Region hosts one of the densest active hypogenic subterranean networks in the world.

Keywords

Hypogenic caves Hydrothermal speleogenesis Hydrothermal speleothems 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Federación de Espeleología de la Región de Murcia and RODCLE®. The authors are grateful to Carlos Munuera, Juan Francisco Plazas, Alba Sánchez, Andrés Hurtado, Roberto Trives, Juan Antonio García, Ana Belén Cáceres, Antonio David Granados, Rita Martínez, Belén López, José L. Carcelén, Antonio Latorre, José Soto, Andrés Marín, José David Lisón, José Florencio, Jesús López and David Bayón. Víctor Ferrer and Antonio González-Ramón are warmly acknowledged for kind permission to use their photographs of Sima de la Higuera and Cueva de Luchena. Sarah Steines is also thanked for revising the English. The authors are grateful to Professor Alexander Klimchouck and Jo de Waele for their thoughtful comments on the early version of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando Gázquez
    • 1
    Email author
  • José María Calaforra
    • 2
  • Tomás Rodríguez-Estrella
    • 3
  • Andrés Ros
    • 4
  • José L Llamusí
    • 4
  • Juan Sánchez
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of St. AndrewsFifeScotland, UK
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Geology, Carretera de Sacramente s.nUniversity of AlmeriaAlmeríaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Mining Engineering, Geology and MappingUniversity of CartagenaCartagenaSpain
  4. 4.Centre for Natural and Marine Environmental Studies, CENM-NaturalezaCartagena, MurciaSpain

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